United legend Gordon Hill gives his thoughts exclusively to TalkOfTheDevils.co.uk
Ralf Rangnick has officially been the interim manager of Manchester United for one week and two games. One of those was won and the other, with a completely changed eleven, drawn – and I don’t know how much we can draw from that, in a world where everybody wants instant conclusions.
I’m optimistic from what I’ve seen and heard of Ralf early on. He has to be allowed to come in and be his own man and make some big decisions – from what we have seen, he has the personality to do that, and that’s very encouraging.
We’re already hearing noises about Martial and Pogba and everybody knows this manager has to clear the cobwebs, he’ll have to clear out the players who don’t fit into his plans – and he’ll have to be ruthless in doing so.
Just before I arrived at Old Trafford, Tommy Docherty cleared out some big names like Law and Best – there’s nobody of that ilk that Ralf will need to move on, even if their egos are big enough to believe they have similar talent.
But that’s been the case for some time, there are plenty of players who are ready to move on, so let’s hope that the manager can have the opportunity to stamp his presence at the club in a meaningful way.
It’s only one game – and a game he could afford to do it in – but you have to be heartened that he brought in a few kids to see what they could do when he could easily have used that running fringe squad players through the motions.
His reputation has been earned through building and developing clubs. Everybody’s talking about him. But I won’t take notice of what Jurgen Klopp, or any other manager, says about him. We’ll see what happens first hand in the changes in players’ attitudes and the results and performances.
Ralf said it himself – he has done it elsewhere, but this is the biggest club in the world. It has pressures which have proved too great for managers with more experience at higher levels of competition.
The situation is a strange one with a six month period which could well extend. I always have, and always will believe, that your best coaches should be right at the core of your system building from the bottom. That seems to be where Ralf’s expertise lays but obviously United’s pressing need is for a first team manager and to keep the club competing.
Maybe the club have covered their back by planning a consultancy role because I just can’t see any situation where Ralf isn’t offered the job on a more permanent basis if he does really well. Perhaps it’s a little ironic that if he does so, then we won’t be able to see that famed long-term system planning that everybody is celebrating so much at the moment.
I’m sure many are like me and wondering who is out there who would come to work in a whole new system built by someone else after six months – especially if it doesn’t start as well as we hope and so that’s the reason for the change.
I can’t say I’m a big fan of so many managerial changes in such a short space of time because I do believe there is a value in continuation, even if you couldn’t really argue about most of the decisions to change managers since Sir Alex retired – but I am quietly optimistic, and above all, curious, to see how Ralf does.
The beauty of the game is in its unpredictability. As someone who loves United I hope it goes so well that we just keep going and we’re not looking for a new manager at the end of the season.